Idle No More: Round Dances At Police Stations

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been more and more reports of First Nations people being arrested at peaceful Idle No More events. There was an arrest made on Christmas Eve in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There were arrests made on January 2 in Broomfield, Colorado (just north of Denver). There was an arrest made on January 5 in Cornwall, Ontario. It may not seem like much, but a few arrests here and a few arrests there eventually adds up to a fair number of arrests overall.

We’ve also read numerous comments from non-Native people on various online blogs and on mainstream newspaper websites clamouring for even more arrests of those who support and promote Idle No More. Even Judges appear to be getting in on things with at least one Ontario Superior Court judge going on record as saying that, in his opinion, law enforcement isn’t doing enough.

Even journalist Christie Blatchford of the National Post has voiced her opinion, writing about what she called the OPP and Sarnia police ‘passivity’ in her January 9, 2013 column. For whatever reason, she doesn’t appear to believe that there’s ever a time when a commander on the scene of any protest should assess a situation as being too dangerous to serve organizers of a protest with a court injunction (even when that protest ends peacefully a few hours later thanks to discussions between protest organizers and law enforcement).

Oddly enough, just last night, I learned that some very vocal Idle No More supporters were getting phone calls from an Ottawa area code, purporting to be doing a survey for the Ontario Provincial Police, and asking if they could spare 5 minutes to answer questions. In one case, I know the person called told the caller if the OPP wanted her opinion on OPP matters, they should mail her a copy of their survey which she would then be more than happy to fill out and return, in person, to her local OPP detachment. The person on the other end of the line hung up.

So what am I saying?

I’m saying that things are getting curiouser and curiouser as the movement continues to gain momentum. Some have said that with so many arrests of Idle No More supporters and participants, they feel that maybe those who suspect they’ll be targeted for a trip to the local police station should just surrender to the police before the event even takes place.

In other words, despite the positive strides forward made by the Idle No More movement, the negativity of others is taking a toll on all sides.

There’s never been any secrets as to where Idle No More events will take place. They’re well advertised on Facebook and Twitter and on other social media networking sites. People talk freely in all of the communities that plan an Idle No More event.

In fact, I know that in some instances, organizers go directly to law enforcement and highway departments and work collaboratively in order to create a law-abiding “Peaceful Slow Down Barricade ” event such as the one in Regina, Saskatchewan last Saturday. According to the news article in the January 7 edition of the Regina Leader-Post, residents living in and around Regina learned that “[f]uture plans are for a demonstration in the Fort Qu’Appelle area on Jan. 11 and for a “reconciliation ride” with horses and riders leading a march down Albert Street to the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on January 16.”

What I’m really saying is that people need to calm down and not let emotions run so high that the issues being brought forward by the Idle No More movement create polarized camps. Working together to resolve issues is possible when people choose to work collaboratively and cooperatively.

As Métis lawyer Chelsea Vowel has said, “Idle No More is basically trying to reset the relationship between Canada and all indigenous peoples, so that once again it’s based on ideas of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and non-interference.”

Let’s all remember that Idle No More isn’t about violence and disrespect.  It’s about doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

Elyse Bruce

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